Not a Suffering-Kind-of-Sacrifice

In a previous post, it only took roughly 598 words to summarize nearly 26 years of my life… I’m either great at writing or I have a really dull life!

Have you ever heard or gotten the following idea: “If missions represents a sacrifice, then forget about going someplace I love… sacrifice means suffering!”  The result of this kind of thinking is that we expect God to call us someplace that we will not particularly love!  This has not been my experience.

The places that I went during my teen years were not chosen because I felt a particular call there. I went because this is where the group was going and I was part of the group. Someone else made the decision and someone else oversaw the planning, I simply followed.

The first time this changed was in 1988 as I was afforded the choice of either going to Bolivia or Belglium for a 2-month stint the following summer. That’s a rather large choice, but it came at a particular point in my life as well… I had graduated from high school and was already in college. I had chosen to move away from my parents’ home. I had chosen to go to another city. I had chosen the school and I had chosen the courses. Through the standard process of maturing as an individual, I was also learning how to evaluate options and make informed choices in everyday aspects of my life.

The process of maturing spiritually mirrors the process of growing socially, intellectually, emotionally and even physically. Making spiritually informed choices involved a healthy balance of evaluating what made sense, what fit my desires & personality and what I felt the will of the Lord to be.

Ah yes… the will of the Lord. Often seen to be this cavernous place of great mystery, it need not be the case. In fact, I’d say that the will of God expressed itself simply by the practical choice of language back in 1988.

From there… one thing led to another: two months turned into two years, which later turned into three short-term summer tours in French-speaking Europe, which led to three multi-week teaching sessions at the Bible School in France which led to the current plan that we’re hatching.  Let me be perfectly clear on this point… None of this has EVER felt like a drudgery or a “suffering-kind-of-sacrifice”!  On the contrary, these times represent some of the greatest memories of my life as well as keen faith-building moments.  Without question, God knows that there must be a love for the place of your calling, because it will be necessary in order to sustain you or keep you there on difficult days.

Feel free to fall head-over-heels in love with the place God is calling you to… it’s actually a very healthy thing. Imagine not being head over heels in love with the person that God was calling you to spend the rest of your life with…. that’d make for quite a marriage!  The Lord wants and expects you to derive joy from being in his will, so I would say… look at the places that you already have an affinity to and see if that affinity is there for the right reason. The next step is to say… “God, is there a place for me to fulfill my calling here? Is there a role for me here? Is there a way that I can contribute to the furthering of your Kingdom in this place?”

If you answered yes to any or all of those questions… then that’s a positive thing to consider as you’re weighing all things together, seeking to make a spiritually mature decision. Let God’s Spirit lead you… he specializes in that!

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